BRIGHTON – Will Monte’s path to owning his own diner was a winding one, but he eventually returned to Brighton, where he says he is now reconnecting with regular visitors he has prepared many years ago.
The Will’s Diner diner opened in the winter at 1009 E. Grand River Ave., in a place that has been occupied by a variety of snacks for years.
The 39-year-old Montera, who for years worked at a number of restaurants in southeastern Michigan, was a chef at the same location in the early 2010s when he was hired by Lucas Coney Island.
“This area is very hospitable to the restaurant industry and people have known me before,” he said.
George’s Coney Island in Brighton, which also occupied the place, closed in 2020, and Montera said he knew right away that he wanted to open his own diner in the space.
Montera said that while in the past there have been Coney Island-style eateries here, he wants his eatery to raise daily family dinners to a “higher level”.
“I want to get top quality ingredients, even if they are more expensive,” he said.
Since Will’s creation he has made some improvements to the space including new kitchen equipment, fresh flooring, ceiling tiles and paint.
He said he plans to add new outdoor seats in the future with confidential panels and umbrellas, as well as smoking meat.
Lots of options, big portions
Its purpose on the menu is to provide many options and large portions.
“The menu should have options, and if you’re going to enjoy large portions, you want the person to feel like he has enough food on his plate. You don’t want to go hungry, ”he explained.
The diner serves breakfast throughout the day, as well as pita and sandwiches, gyros lunch, steaks, seafood, fried meats, dog horses and burgers.
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Montero said he fell in love with the restaurant industry at a young age after moving to Michigan from Costa Rica about 20 years ago.
“The idea of opening a restaurant has been in my head for 20 years,” he said.
He began building and renovating Costa Pro Contracting to help fund his dream.
“At that time I didn’t have the money, so I used my carpentry skills, left the restaurant and started a small carpentry business. But my dream has always been to have a restaurant,” he said.
Sarah Widmeyer worked with Montera when she was a server for Lucas Coney Island, and she is excited to return as general manager of Will’s Diner.
“It’s more of a diner next door, so 75% of the customers who come in the door, we recognize them as regulars. It’s such a place,” Widmeier said. “We bring back a lot of our regular visitors earlier. We spent a lot of time communicating with old customers on social media and texting. ”
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timor at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.